Monday, May 28, 2012

Roefaro, "Budo" Lose Their Credibility In New Hartford Town Court

Well, it has happened. Finally. The miscreant antics of former mayor Dave Roefaro have been publicly revealed. Along with his constant companion, Sabahoudin Mukic, known  as "Budo," he was spanked by New Hartford Town Justice Van Slyke for his role in the now infamous "Daylight Donuts Coffee Caper."

For those of you who are not familiar with the latest round of trashy activities of this disgusting duo, let me update you.

Several weeks ago, my sister and former Utica Corporation Counsel Linda Fatata was accosted by these two thug wannabes at the Daylight Donuts drive through in New Hartford. Making inappropriate and threatening advances, the confrontation eventually ended with the alleged Roefaro bodyguard/chauffeur Budo muttering incoherent obscenities at her and throwing two partially filled coffee cups into her face.

Linda drove off, shocked and frightened, dripping with coffee and desperate to get away from this creepy, frightening situation.

Not happy with the initial outcome of their confrontation, they decided to up the ante by calling New Hartford Police and filing a complaint. In their corrupt and twisted minds, they decided to fabricate  a new version of the event and accuse this lawyer, mother and breast cancer survivor of doing to them what they had done to her. Labeling it 2nd degree harassment, the investigator filed the charge and went home, never bothering to call Linda for her side of the story.

I will have to remember this. Apparently, all you have to do in Oneida County is fabricate a story, call the police with a complaint and thats it. No investigation needed.

When Linda found out, she was beside herself. These slippery slugs actually succeeded in turning the story around and convincing the authorities that she was the culprit. When she tried to get information from New Hartford PD, she was given a court date and told to be there. No questions. No investigation. Guilty until proven innocent-at least in this case.

Well, Linda had the sense to retain the services of Steve Lockwood, a local attorney who has a reputation of fighting for the truth and against the corruption of local government. And this case was full of questionable tactics and good old boy back-room deals.

What else could explain the handling of the case by DA Scott MacNamara's office? No offers of an ACD, no investigation-again. Just the word of a former mayor and his soul mate. "Scotty Mac," as he has been affectionately referred to many times by Roefaro, turned his boy Nolan loose and they were out for blood!

During the trial, I was half-expecting Mariska Hargaty from "SVU" to sweep in the door as a witness for the prosecution. At least that was the image Attorney Nolan was trying to portray. He was singularly focused on portraying linda as a crazed and dangerous criminal and insisting she be made to pay for her misdeeds. He alternated between mocking contempt for Linda and her witnesses and cooing sympathy for the "victims," Roefaro and Budo. It was truly nauseating.

Roefaro's testimony took all morning. When he was finished, he glided out of the courtroom like the star he truly believes himself to be. With the mid-day sun highlighting his thinning, jet-black dyed hair, he climbed into his equally shiny, black car to head back to his pious handling of yet another local corpse and it's grieving family.

In the afternoon, Budo held court. With his shiny suit stretched to the limit over his powerfully built frame, thick accent, thick neck, and hair thickly held back with tons of product, he attempted to portray himself as the terrified victim of this 5 foot powerhouse of a woman. He claimed that, from her front seat, belted in, she managed to accost him with pile-driver like punches to his gut. The ferocity of her attack, he claimed, was so great that it covered him with scalding coffee and turned him into a whimpering, defenseless man begging for his life.

Linda testified that she never used her arm to punch him. She has limited use of that arm, she said, due to lymphadema from her bout with breast cancer. Her arm is virtually useless.

In the end, the case did not add up. All of his TV inspired antics could not help Nolan make this case hold water. Roefaro and Budo could not get their story straight. Even Nolan's dramatic summation, worthy of a murder trial, did not make sense. Someone forgot to mention that Nancy Grace was not covering the trial and Court TV cameras were not waiting for  comment.

And apparently Judge Van Slyke agreed because it took him exactly 5 seconds to pronounce the "not guilty" verdict. And just like that, it was over. The color drained out of Nolan's face. Budo ran out of the court room, perhaps to break the news to "My Mayor," as he has been known to refer to Roefaro, that their latest plot had been foiled. Again.

And, justice prevailed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Utica On The Defense-Again!

The City of Utica is on the defense-again!

Once again, Utica has been attacked by a wandering journalist looking for a story. What a perfect place to  feature-Utica, NY.

It has all the qualities that a photo journalist could ever wish for. An erie, post-apocalyptic feel to the streets, weed choked parks with abandoned, crumbling buildings everywhere. A population that at times is known to wander zombie-like through the destitute, wind and debris-swept streets of downtown.

Yes, let's capture that image and transmit it across the globe for all to see. The relief that some, who view this, will feel at the fact that they do not live in such a sad, awful place. The references to  "rust belt, former industrial powerhouse, a city in decline," will accompany the images.

And there it will be. Another kick in the (missing) teeth to a place that many years ago learned how to handle such abuse. But, have we? Have the constant attacks and negative headlines really taught us anything?

The response is always the same.  "We have so many good things to be proud of," they will write. "The Stanley, Zoo, Munson. What about the Boilermaker? Affordable real estate, wonderful people. A ski slope right in town! Why, we always collect the most money for the Heart Run, don't we?"

Yes, we will defend ourselves by stating the obvious-that we have many great things to be proud of. Most communities in decline do. And yes, we are in decline. We have been for many, many years. It is obvious to strangers who visit. Photojournalists scouting around for communities to be featured in  "Architectural Digest" don't come to Utica.

Publications looking for a place to capture the destruction of the American dream do.

So we will keep on defending, they will keep on showing the seedy underbelly of our city. When will we stop being so defensive and ask this one question:

Could there be a problem here?

If a total stranger to our city could so easily find such negative and truly awful images to capture, could there possibly be some truth to these pictures? As challenging as it may be, the time has come for a good, hard, realistic look at the city we have become. The result may scare us.

For years, our region has happily developed the suburbs while the city has declined. Decayed. Died from within.

When Griffiss Air Base closed in 1995, we all banded together to create what is now an economic powerhouse of jobs-Griffiss Industrial Park. When downtown Utica began hemorrhaging jobs and business, no one took a second look. Why, even The Utica Chamber of Commerce decided to drop "Utica" for a fresher and more generic sounding "Mohawk Valley."

We as a collective region turned our backs on Utica. We left it for the disadvantaged, the social services  recipients, the disenfranchised. We developed spanking new suburban shopping opportunities, pristine homogeneous suburban neighborhoods, and even installed an "International Sculpture Garden" at Griffiss! Now, you don't even need to go downtown for culture anymore.

So when a stranger who doesn't know about all the wonders that surround Utica wanders into town, they see the results of our handiwork-a city in decline. When the stranger reports through words or photos their impression of our city, we react with the outrage and indignation that any loyal citizen would.

How about if this time, we react with action? What if, for a change, we took a good, hard look and admit that we have problems and that if we are to succeed as a region, we have to fix the one thing that will continue to hold us back-Utica.

It will not be easy. We may have to ask the money-rich suburbs to throw something into the pot. Local redevelopment agencies like EDGE may have to refocus their energies on Utica. And, development of suburban farms and orchards will have to stop. Sprawl without population growth has been a major contributor to the destruction of Utica. County planning has turned the other way and allowed this uneven playing field to be created for the benefit of a few wealthy and influential developers.

We have to create a fair and balanced development strategy if we are to succeed. All the hopes of a burgeoning nano tech industry in Utica will fall flat if a company comes to town and sees what our friend the photo journalist just did.

We need to emulate cities like Schenectady, NY  The county actually gives the city a portion of it's sales tax revenue to stimulate downtown development. The Metroplex, their county agency, operates opposite to what we do here. They focus all their efforts downtown. They understand that, as a region, they are only as good as their lead city.

Or, we could do nothing. Let it remain as it has. And when the next negative story is featured, we can cry foul, talk about all the wonders of our region, and fool ourselves into thinking all is well in Utica, NY.